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Career Detour: Focusing On Job Openings And Vacancies

The typical job seeker is focused on WHERE to find the openings so they can apply and hopefully score a winner. It sounds logical, doesn’t it? But the problem is many openings are never advertised.

Here’s what an “opening” looks like from an HR prospective: they get a job request that’s been signed off by the powers that be. The compensation department has determined the pay range and a job description has been established, and thus there’s now an official position to fill. But there are some things you should know about in regards to how these positions usually open up. Often, it’s because someone either transferred to another department, left the organization, the company is expanding or someone could have even been fired! Now, here are some facts to consider. Studies have shown that out of a hundred jobs, only 10% are ever advertised. 10%! So the remaining positions are part of what we call the “hidden job market.” Another factor to throw in the mix is this: according to a Harvard study*, 43.3% of unadvertised positions are actually created for the applicant.

So how can you become the applicant employers are dying to hire when you don’t even know of the opening?! First and foremost, you have to be clear about the value you bring to any organization. You can do this by having a focused target and a compelling message.

Then, with a powerful networking strategy, you can uncover three areas where the “hidden job market” is revealed. When you talk with management, look for opportunities in the following three areas:

1. The Incompetent Employee: This is the person every other employee wonders about, thinking “how have they not been fired yet?!” The truth is that simply firing the person without anyone ready to take on their responsibilities means someone else has to pick up where they left off. That creates a lot of stress and often stops progress within the department. Who would do that if they could avoid it? The truth is that managers are always looking for good people. If they can trade up, they will.

2. The Superstar Employee: When it comes to excellent employees, managers find themselves thinking, “I want to grow and reward the superstars I have on my team, but in doing so I need to retain the right team mix, which means someone to replace the person I’m promoting.” Maybe they’ll meet you just in time to see that you’re the missing link!

3. The Missing Employee: Say a company has signed a new contract and is just starting to think about how to handle the additional workload. If the hiring manager remembers meeting with someone over coffee that was impressive (that person being you in this scenario), they’ll want to give them a call to see if they would be interested. They could hire you on the spot to ensure work progresses, while still looking for a few more good applicants. They may actually hope that you – the new hire – will have some good connections/recommendations, providing them with more quality applicants before the job “opening” even posts.

This should give you confidence that there really are needs for people even when there’s no vacancy advertised, and that a position could be created just for you!

*Per job research by Mark Granovetter of Harvard.